The Foraged Island Botanicals

IN

We are endlessly fascinated by the history of this wild Hebridean island, of its people, its distilling lineage.

Uisge beatha, that first spirit distilled here through the centuries would have been a white spirit that bore little resemblance to the relatively modern invention of single malt whisky. It would have been consumed young and there are tantalising clues that it may have been flavoured using local island botanicals. What were they?

It was with this question in mind that Jim McEwan went to meet with Richard and Mavis Gulliver, two eminent botanical scientists living here on Islay, and was introduced to our heritage of dozens of local plants and herbs with their rich and varied scents, flavours and histories.

Could it be that Duncan McGillivray had provided us with the perfect vessel with which to do this in the old Lomond Still?

Inspired by the delicacy of these extraordinary botanicals, he realised, as a distiller that they would have to be treated very gently if he was to coax them into releasing their secrets. They would not be steeped, but infused with the vapours of distillation.

Could it be that Duncan McGillivray had provided us with the perfect vessel with which to do this in the old Lomond Still? Jim started to modify it far beyond its creator’s intentions, introducing dozens of copper pipes, an additional water jacket and a special chamber in the lyne arm to hold the potpourri of island botanicals.

Already running at a very low pressure, these radical modifications slowed the distillation process down still further, introducing new avenues of reflux for any heavy oils, allowing only the finest, most delicate flavours to reach the spirit safe.

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